The story goes that, in 2000, while pianist/vocalist Norah Jones was playing regularly at the Living Room in New York's Lower East Side and well before she earned eight Grammys, she received an invitation to sing some blues with guitarist Peter Malick and his band. Reluctantly, Jones admitted to a paucity of blues-singing experience. Thankfully, Malick was persistent. Listening to the rootsy, organic beauty evidenced on New York City, you'd never know Jones hadn't ever sung the blues. Inspired by the classic work of artists such as Ray Charles and Billie Holiday, New York City is a kind of singer/songwriter blues album featuring Jones' particularly haunting vocal style. It's more mainstream than Come Away With Me, but fans of that album should cotton easily to Jones' work here. Conceptualized around the post-9/11 title track, most of Malick's songs are contemporary blues reminiscent of the work of Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton. Notably, "Strange Transmissions," a melancholy and atmospheric profession of a love that just can't be denied, showcases Jones as mellow blues diva, while "Heart of Mine" finds the pianist's breathy style perfectly suited to the Bob Dylan nugget. As for leader Malick, he takes the vocal duties on "Things You Don't Have to Do" and graces most of the tracks with his thoughtful and tempered guitar sound.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar